Why use an FPGA instead of a CPU or GPU? | by Atze van der Ploeg |  Netherlands eScience Center

FPGA is the acronym for Field Programmable Gate Arrays and is nothing more than a series of semiconductor-based devices based on configurable logic block matrices, where they are connected through programmable interconnections. However, their main feature and advantage is that they can be reprogrammed for a specific job or change their requirements after they have been manufactured. The inventor of this technology was Xilinx. If you are considering buying highest-grade FPGA module at affordable prices, get in touch with Turnkey Solutions.

Devices of a programmable nature

The interesting thing about this type of device is its innumerable applications at present since its technical characteristics can be focused on sectors such as – aerospace, audio, automotive, broadcast, electronics, data centers, high performance computing, industrial and medical, etc. The advantages of being reprogrammable add an undeniable appeal in order to achieve greater flexibility of the flow of the final designs. 

Its costs for this are much lower and its development time is considerably reduced compared to other very popular options. Even so, the market is currently focusing on three very clear sectors that are gaining momentum in recent years – data centers, AI and advances to improve processors.

FPGA Main features

The main characteristic of an FPGA is flexibility. It is given by its nature, where an engineer could download a file for a specific FPGA and modify its behavior by making changes to said file. This section implies that in many cases physical changes can be made without making costly modifications to the board that supports it. The second characteristic that FPGA carries is acceleration. When we talk about acceleration, we have to define three different scenarios – manufacturing, design and acceleration itself.

In the manufacturing, FPGA is very simple to build and is sold out of the box, which means a reduction in the total time of a company. On the design side, an OEM can ship an FPGA as soon as its initial design is finished and tested, again saving companies time. For acceleration, there is not much to say since as we all know, high performance FPGA is helping processors by increasing system performance.

FPGA modules are increasingly complete and complex

The next main point is integration since an FPGA can include RAM, processors, digital signal processing engines and an endless number of individual systems. Each year they increase in complexity, where they could rival a basic system in terms of complexity and raw power.

The last point is your costs. You have to take into account the cost for a company to order new systems for specific tasks. With a good FPGA, these tasks can be programmed to take advantage of its power, which reduces costs significantly. 


It is already true that FPGA is a huge success among engineers and designers. If a system had problem or needed major changes, with an FPGA it would not be as problematic as with an ASIC since it could be reprogrammed or redesigned for these changes and new tasks. FPGA has many options to be increasingly famous in the industry, where IT companies are betting heavily especially on data centers and AI.


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